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Scientist just wants to have fun – a compendium of mindless games for the holiday season!
Andrew Maynard   Dec 25, 2009   2020 Science  

Here’s some sciency fun for a long holiday weekend. Enjoy!

To help the brain cells recuperate from over-exertion (and quite possibly over-indulgence) this holiday season, here’s a short compendium of mindless games—the sort of things scientists and others indulge in when they think no one’s looking!

The selection rules here were simple: Anything that didn’t hold my attention for more than five seconds, required a double-digit IQ, or was associated with “learning goals,” was ditched faster than a game of Klingon Scrabble.

Of course, you’re expected to pooh pooh the resulting collection to friends and colleagues as being nothing but mindless drivel—got to keep the side up after all! But when you’re alone, check out the games. Believe me, your over-exerted brain cells will thank you!

NOTE: Okay, so I have a confession to make. Despite my aims of embracing the trivial and avoiding learning experiences at all costs, these games have a little more in common with science and technology than might be immediately apparent. With a couple of exceptions, there’s a discovery and prediction theme going on here that reflects how science tends to work, not to mention some rather cool physically-realistic modeling. But don’t let that distract you from enjoying the games for what they are—(relatively) mindless fun!


Science Crossword


I thought I’d start with at least a pretense of intellectual stimulation with this science crossword. Pretense is the keyword here – this isn’t quite New York Times crossword territory. Which is a relief, as completing it is straightforward, even if most of your brain is still off partying elsewhere.

If you enjoyed this, there are fifteen other science crosswords to keep you amused.



Here’s a deceptively engaging bit of fun from VectorPark. Just build a mobile from the pieces provided. Each time you get the thing to balance, you get another piece to add—how far can you get? Like all games from VectorPark, it’s up to you to discover the rules by trial and error. Or you could just sit and watch your mobile twist and turn on the screen—my recommendation after a heavy holiday meal!

And there’s much more here

Andrew Maynard is Director of the Risk Science Center at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

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